Thursday, January 05, 2006

Sisters-In-Arms: the Postmortem

Chudleigh Animation Group, Burbank:

There are many stories of cartoon shows that got cancelled before they could shine their light on the world, such as:

"The 2-Headed Bumpkin"
"Where's the Snimp?"
and "Ant Patrol: The Picnic Chronicles"

so when I was given a chance to interview the participants in the recently cancelled toon "Sisters-In-Arms", I leaped right in!

One of the first people I met was Justin Blakeny, the design supervisor. Sporting a goatee, baseball cap, and trendy black glasses, he looked nothing like someone who would be in the animation biz- totally stylin'!

"Speaking strictly off the record, dude, Sarah Halbermann was a total nightmare." Said Blakeny. "She knew nothing about animation and didn't care to learn. We tried to tell her that those designs of hers may work ok in a comic strip, but for animation, they were a non-starter. I tried to get Wilkinson (Janet Wilkinson, exec. producer-A.) to talk to her."

He takes a sip of Coke.


Story supervisor Jake Ray chimed in. "Or how about the way they had these boring-ass meetings where everybody stood around in a circle arguing about whether the door on the cafe should open IN or OUT? Oh my God! The show itself sucks goat titties, and they're wasting valuable time that could be spent getting a good story together worrying about set dressing."
Jake adjusted his ballcap and stroked his goatee before adding thoughtfully:
"What I just said is not for print, right, bro?"

Next I made my way to Joan McBride, a layout artist on the show.

"Look, I'm a woman- I'm all for women getting ahead and all that, but I think that Sarah Halbermann overriding everything that the art team had to say by dismissing them as male chauvanists was just dumb. Our goal was to make a show for the audience, for God's sake. Nobody sitting at home cares about our petty office politics"

Nobody but us, right, folks?

McBride continued:
"One of the guys would make a valid suggestion, and Halbermann would automatically veto it, and expect me to agree with her, because I have estrogen. Like- how about more than one camera angle in the show? You don't need a goatee to see how that would be a good idea. This is just between us, of course."

Jeff Matheson, BG supervisor, had this to add:

"Halbermann comes to me and asks me to make a table in Maya for the characters to sit at.
Make a table she says.
What kind of table? I ask.
No idea, but I'll know it when I see it, she says.
So we make about 30 tables. None pass.
We make 30 more. None pass.
Now, all this time, I'm getting NO feedback about what kind of table she wants. No designs, no verbal. Nothing.
After me and my team wasted about 2 weeks, she finally decided on the second one we did on day ONE.
This is strictly between you and me, but I think the folks upstairs were just looking for ANY show featuring female characters, to hit some sort of demographic or something. Makes me nervous that they'll try to resurrect some Godawful piece of trash like like that Betty Boop knockoff from the 30's, Polly Doodle, just 'cause it's a female."

Wow! Who would have guessed that when I volunteered for this temporary gig packing up the offices of the Chudleigh Animation Group that I'd end up with an exclusive scoop for the "Toon-ing In Website"? I'll let Joan McBride have the last word:

"At the end of the day, it's a paying job, even if you can see that it's going to be a disaster. I never challenged Sarah Halbermann, because I need the work. I have a daughter, and, it's a small industry. I don't want to rock the- why are you asking so many questions? You're not the moving guy with the blog are you? Oh Jesus..."

Yes indeed, folks- perhaps with a letter writing campaign we can bring the lost gem "Sisters-In-Arms" back to the airwaves, where it can shine!


Anonymous toonsmith said...

Wow.Thanks for the investigative report about this hidden gem!

It really sounds like Ms. Halbermann got a raw deal. I don't get why the artists had such a problem concentrating on the important stuff. I mean, God lives in the details right!

I'm really surprised by Jake Ray's reaction to the events surrounding this show. I looked him up on the imdb, and found that he was not only script supervisor on the first three seasons of "Dunkley", but also the straight-to-video feature "Dunkley learns to bake". Oh, how the mighty have fallen!

7:58 AM  
Blogger Animazing! said...

Say, Toonsmith, you know almost as much about cartoons as me!

If I was an artist, I'd love to sit around all day and draw pictures of lovely females!!

12:49 PM  
Anonymous toonsmith said...

You sir are preaching to the converted!

2:53 PM  
Blogger chia said...

cancelled!?!?! that is some straight up boondockery if i ever heard it!

12:03 AM  
Blogger Duck Dodgers said...

Your article was a very interesting lecture .

Thanks for posting it !

Check it out my own blog if you care about classic cartoons of the Golden Age .

12:06 AM  
Anonymous Kevin W. Martinez said...

Nice Article. I'll take Ms. Halbermann's experiences to heart in case any of the comic strips i'm working on gets an Animation deal.

PS; Feel Free to check out my Blog
( It's currently in laughable disrepair (since it's new), but i hope to get some of my Comic Strips and characters on it by this weekend)

4:29 PM  

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